When it comes to preparing for NaNoWriMo or WWH’s Writevember, much of October (or Preptober) is spent developing a book idea, fleshing it out with characters, settings, and a plot. But success at NaNoWriMo doesn’t just come from being prepared to write. Like any other goal, having time, space, and an environment that supports the goal is key.
Here are tips on how to prepare your life for a successful NaNoWriMo in November.
(Read text version of this video below)
Preparing to Write
It doesn’t matter if you know what to write if you don’t have the space or time to get it done. To succeed at NaNoWriMo, you need to:
1) Make time to write. NaNoWriMo pace is 1,667 words a day, which can be done in an hour or so if you know what to write when you sit at your desk. Where can you find an hour or an hour and a half to write? Early in the morning? During lunch? Late at night? Whatever time you come up with, put it in your schedule.
2) Make space to write. Have a designated area, preferably set up for writing and away from distractions, where you can write. Not only should it have your computer or writing materials, but also anything else you need, such as notepads, notes, phrasing books, research, inspiring quotes, etc.
3) Let your friends and family know your goal of writing a novel. Enlist their support in your endeavor! The checklist below has an infographic from NaNoWriMo on “Caring For Your NaNoWriMo Writer.” Share it with your family and friends so they can help you achieve your goal.
4) Divvy up chores and other to-dos in your family for the month of November. Just for one month, your family can help you with your chores. If you normally do the dishes or laundry or mow the lawn, pay the bills or take out the trash, ask members of your family take care of it in November. This is a good month to find someone else to host Thanksgiving if that’s normally your job as well.
5) Extend deadlines if possible. If you have work, school, or other projects due in November, see if you can extend their due dates.
6) Anticipate distractions and nip them in the bud. Distractions can be a huge problem in NaNoWrimo. Make of list of possible things that could stop you from writing and make a plan to avoid them or respond to them in a way that doesn’t keep you from writing. That could mean turning off your phone and notifications while writing. Or maybe asking your partner or a neighbor to watch the kids while you’re writing. Here is a fun video from NaNoWriMo on Those Pesky NaNo Distractions.
7) Knowing that Thanksgiving is coming, plan to write ahead a little before the holiday. The pace of NaNoWriMo is 1,667 words a day, but that includes Thanksgiving. If you take three days off, your pace goes up to 1,852 words per day. Or, if you’re traveling, make a plan for writing while away. One year, I hand wrote my story while at my mom’s house for Thanksgiving. It was the first year I won NaNoWriMo. That year I had to retype everything, but now with AI, you can scan your handwritten page using your phone and Google Drive. Then on your computer, find the PDF in Google Drive, and open with Google Docs. The handwriting will be transcribed into type. The font will be wonky, but Select-All and change the font and then edit.
8) Plan meals ahead of time. If possible, assign cooking to someone else in the family. But if that’s not possible, use your Crockpot or Instapot to make cooking less time-consuming.
Surviving NaNoWriMo in November
You’ve prepared your novel and your life to write 50,000 words in November. Now you need to get it done. Here’s how:
Get Ready, Get Set…
If you’ve done the above checklist and prepped your novel idea, then you should be ready.
The secret to making NaNoWriMo easier (besides the checklist above) is knowing what you’re going to write when you sit down at your computer. The more you plot, the easier and faster you can write. It is excruciatingly hard to sit in your chair to type if you’re drawing a blank about what to write.
Below are Day Before Writing To-Dos. You should do these tasks on October 31 and every day, after you’ve finished writing, so that you’re prepared to write the next day. Each day, you should be able to sit down, review your notes and the write 1,667 word without stopping.
Note to pantsters: You need to do this too if you want to avoid wasting time staring at the screen wondering what to write.
Day Before Writing To-Dos
1) Review your plot notes for the chapter or scene you plan to write tomorrow. Make sure you have enough to write to meet your 1,667 word goal. For day one, that means reviewing your opening unless you plan to write out of order.
2) Make any additional notes that come to you, such as dialogue or new ideas. Often when you’re writing, new ideas come to you. If those ideas are about tomorrow’s writing (or any future writing), jot them down in your document, comments, plot outline, or wherever you can see it when it’s time to write tomorrow.
3) Check that any research needed to write the next scene is done, and the data is in your notes or otherwise easily accessible. Try not to waste your time researching while writing. Anything you need to know to write, have the information with your notes or plot prior to writing.
If you’ve prepped your writing yesterday, then all you need to do is:
1) Go to your writing space at your designated writing time. Be sure to let your family and friends know that this is a “Do Not Disturb” time.
2) Turn off your phone and computer notifications. Keep your browser closed or better yet, turn off the Internet on your computer. Remember to let your family know you’re writing and can’t be interrupted. My rule was don’t interrupt me unless there’s blood or fire.
3) Review the chapter/scene notes from yesterday, including any research data you need to include.
4) Read the last chapter/scene from yesterday if you need help getting back into your story.
5) Write! Your goal is to reach 1,667 words each day for NaNoWriMo or whatever your Writevember daily goal is. If you fall short, don’t freak out. You can make it up another day.
6) Do Day Before Writing To Dos. Don’t end your writing session until you’ve planned for tomorrow’s writing.
To your writing and life schedule easier during November, download the free daily planner sheet that includes Today’s Writing, Today’s Word Count, Total Word Count, and Tomorrow’s Writing. The left side of the page you can use for whatever else you need to plan for the day.